infectious disease

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island is facing a litany of serious health issues – from a rising number of overdose deaths to a spike in sexually transmitted infections. It’s up to the new director of the state’s health department, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, to address those epidemics and more. Scott is an infectious disease doctor who has spent the past few years consulting with the Department of Health. We recently sat down with her to learn more about how she’s approaching her new role.

It's sinister, this virus: hepatitis C can live in the body for decades before causing any noticeable symptoms. By then, the symptoms could be serious: at the worst, cirrhosis or liver cancer. Most people who have hepatitis C don't know it. In this case, what you don't know can hurt you, or even kill you.

Timothy Flanigan

A Rhode Island doctor has just returned from Liberia where for three months he trained health care workers fighting the deadly Ebola virus. Dr. Timothy Flanigan is one of several Rhode Islanders who have traveled to the West African nation to fight the disease that the World Health Organization estimates to have killed some 6500 people.

Shortly after arriving back home, he sat down with me to talk about what he saw and where he sees hope.

You can listen to our conversation here.

Jake Harper / RIPR

One infectious disease – Ebola – is dominating the headlines now. But there’s another that affects far more people around the world, including here in the U.S.


The mother of the Rhode Islander diagnosed with Ebola says she first learned their son might have Ebola early Thursday morning. Diana Mukpo said when she first got the call, her heart sank. Then the fear set in. Her son, Ashoka Mukpo, quarantined himself as soon as the fever set in. And Doctors Without Borders confirmed the diagnosis that day.

Her son had been to Liberia before to do development work, but returned after the Ebola outbreak to report on it.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A child from Rhode Island has died from a combination of infections, including enterovirus D68, or EV-D68. It’s one of the first known deaths with some kind of link to EV-D68. What role the respiratory virus played in the child’s death is still unclear.

Rhode Island’s first case of enterovirus D68 has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is responsible for some hospitalizations, but so far no deaths.

Rhode Island’s first case of the respiratory virus has been confirmed in an adult, who was recently hospitalized but has been discharged. It’s already been confirmed in neighboring states. Rhode Island sent a batch of specimens to the CDC for testing, and this is the first to come back positive.

Rhode Island health department officials do not expect to see any Ebola cases in the state. But they’re preparing anyway.

Rhode Island’s health department director Dr. Michael Fine says his agency knows how to handle an infectious disease outbreak. And one of the first lines of defense against Ebola includes health care workers and hospitals.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that everyone understands what they have to do should a traveler come here from an endemic area," said Fine.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A Rhode Island Hospital study has found a rise in the number of antibiotic resistant urinary tract infections. That’s coupled with an overall increase in these kinds of infections throughout the state.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC released an update today on the nation's and individual state's progress toward reducing the rate of infections acquired in hospitals. The headline, nationwide, is that we're making progress. In Rhode Island, not as much.